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10:07 AM on 04.12.2015  

Review: Claire - Horror has a new queen

Name: Claire

Price: £6.99 /  $9.99

Format:  PC (available from Steam and Desura)

PC specs used can be found in this sites FAQ section

Review: 

Ok I got a request to review this game and honestly I was more than happy to do it as Claire is a game I had seen about and while it looked nice I never really felt like trying it. The simple reason is I thought looking at the game initially it would be quite tame. After the whole thing of Beyond the Sleep turning out to have a twist like ending and not being some super horror game you could say I was gun shy. Beyond the Sleep was a game I had planned to get and after I ran into the ending (I forget how but I didn't plan it), I really didn't feel a compulsion to play the game or many other horror game. Now I had planned to look at Lone Survivor but then that's really well known. So when I suggested people take a look at Claire and one person asked me "Well why should we beyond the developer sticking up for their consumers?" I had to say to myself fair point. Hence this review.

Now I know a lot of people are going to shout from the roof "Nepotism" because of this review and let me say this. The developer standing up for their customers earned me buying the game and suggesting others look at it. It was a person asking for a review of the game that spurred me to actually do a review. Now I could have just done a quick forum review of the game and moved on. It's a testament to the game itself that I'm choosing to give it a full review here. Some of you who follow me on Twitter might have noticed I announced the delay, the reason for this is I really wanted to explore the game more. 

Now I did miss a few bits, if the developer is reading this I missed the guy in the school bathroom and still can't find where he is, help please! I did however really enjoy the game and it's possible to get the best ending (Ending A) without an absolutely perfect run which is good as it's quite easy to miss things even if you were trying to comb every inch of the game like me. This is a game having reviewed (and pushed myself through) I can see myself coming back to in the future and not feeling quite as pressured in the playthrough. Claire is a game you savour not rush to the finish line on. My playthrough missing a few bits took a little over 4 hours. Now thanks to me being a save scummer and repeating some sections etc my total play time is closer to 7 hours. I'd say 4 hours for your first playthrough 5-6 if you're going for 100% first try.

So I think it's only fair I get onto talking about the game itself. Claire is an instruction manual titled "How to make a working horror game beat for beat". If Five Nights at Freddy's is the king of Jumpscare horror then I have to declare that this generations Queen of psychological horror is Claire. Everything works so well to unsettle and disturb the player. I consider myself someone that's hard to effectively scare: I've played horror games before mostly to no effect; I've walked alone through a fairly secluded area of forest in the black of night; I've stayed in essentially a small log cabin in the middle of a forest with a metal shutter for one of the windows and watched the film Dog Soldiers then walked 15 minutes in pitch black through a forest area to say hi to people on a campsite. Those things didn't scare me, Claire did. I started playing Claire in broad daylight at 3pm in the afternoon with headphones on and the game is so well made it had me almost shaking in fear. Only 1 other game has ever inspired such fear in me and it's the game Call of Cthulhu. Claire is just so well designed to inspire dead from the dark mist like shadows lapping at the edge of the screen to the enemies that let out an unsettling screeching noise to the music itself, which when used often inspires dread. The limited ball of light provided by the lighter and need to conserve the torch power helps the darkness feel ominous, all consuming and oppressing in on you from all sides. 

The Monsters themselves while they shouldn't be terrifying do manage to come off as such, not instantly repulsive but they feel horrifying on a deeper almost primeval level. When they appear suddenly all your instincts are to be afraid of them. This deep seated fear is a testament to their design with a sinewy twisted shadowy forms. Their movement is unlike anything else in the game creating a confusion of slightly blurred movement. The monster even play into the idea of the uncanny valley a bit by seeming so much like a discernible identifiable something but being just different enough and indefinable enough that  your body itself screams these things are wrong. While most of the enemies pose little threat they're so well designed they inspire fear and dread be it when your dog barks to warn you about them (and set you n edge) or when they've chased you out of a door. Even when you've left a room having been chased out you hear them banging on the door before breaking through to continue the chase, forcing you to try and lose them in the labyrinth like levels or hide if, you can find a place.

The level designs themselves are also a great demonstration of how to do horror well, not just for the theme of each level. Each level while seemingly playing on a near trope level standard horror location shows how with a few minor changes such locations can be made horrifying. It's not so much about horrifying images but changing things enough to make the players mind constantly tell them that the location isn't right be it from a quite dirty run down hospital to a near empty school or a dark foreboding apartment complex, all are familiar yet also wrong. With each level having a vague story in it's own right and talking about how this loosely connects to Claire's own life story.

I've seen plenty of people complain about the pacing and honestly I think the slower pacing and lack of constant scares helps build the tension up. While you may feel the actual scares and monsters are a distance apart the game does an expert job of keeping you on edge and unsettled.

I also need to give credit to the games art as while it is a retro art style the animations are superb. From Claire moving the torch about to the idle animations almost all the in game animations look beautifully created.

The story itself (which I won't spoil) is almost a master piece and really pulls at the heart strings in places making you feel sorry for the characters all trapped in this horrifying place. Each character seemingly having their own story and tale to tell all of it mounting up and adding to the main story and explaining the warped world of the game. These are not merely some stock characters but feel like real people with real world problems who reacted in a fairly realistic way to them. I don't want to say more lest I spoil it.

Ok so enough of me gushing about how this game is some superb horror experience as to say the game is perfect would be a lie. The game does have a number of issues which can hamper the experience or minor changes which could greatly improve it.

The controls are a big problem for a number of reasons. For whatever reason on my system the mouse seemed to suffer some degree of mouse lag and as such this is a game I can only recommend playing with a controller. The problem is the controller set up itself has a few problems and a case of multiple actions bound together. This would be fine if you could change the controls but for whatever reason on my system only the keyboard controls can be rebound and not the controller buttons. The big issue being that the accept button for menu control is the same button as interact. This wouldn't be such an issue if being in a menu paused the game but it doesn't. Multiple times I found myself accidentally coming out of hiding while trying to check my map or accidentally entering rooms while trying to look at note, maybe this could have been solved by having accept be bind able to another button (or key on the keyboard settings), or having the menu accept button being different from the enter / interact button. There does also seem to be a minor bug relating to the controller and it's interaction with the note menu, a number of times a scrolled down the notes only for the selection to refuse to return from the scroll arrow. This bug meant to read the later notes I had to enter the note menu, scroll down, close the menu and re-open it to read the later notes.

While the controls are a problem they're not the only issue I found. If you create a lot of save files the game seems far slower to actually save (though this may be due to additional progress through the game also being saved not just more save files). Worse still this problem is made worse by the lack of an easy delete save option to erase older saves if they become useless. The only way to seemingly erase the data is by finding the save files on your computer, which is quite tough to locate  (and no I tested erasing all local contents doesn't erase your game saves too).

The games map can be a problem with the map sometimes failing to register blockages, marking blockages incorrectly on the map and even in one case a door (top left on the second floor of the final level) being shown in an entirely different location to its actual position in the room. I also feel like the map needs to do a better job of indicating passages and newly opened holes in the walls as these are not only extremely easy to miss but often very frustrating to try and find leading to plenty of time wandering round getting frustrated with seemingly no direction to go. A map indication of these things (if you pass them) would greatly benefit the game. Also I'm going to suggest this and it may be unpopular but a minimap wouldn't go a miss (or at least a single static picture of the room you're in orientated as it is in game) This would cut down on confusion and constantly having to check the map to figure out which was the rooms are orientated and as such which way you need to go to progress.

The blockage to the left of the blip on the map is meant to be over the door not floating in the middle of the room. Also the room in the top left on this map doesn't line up with the the doors position in the adjacent room itself.

I feel like the hiding mechanic is under used or poorly used as while I understand the desire to make hiding places scarce they feel too spread out. While I don't want them as abundant as the final boss "fight" I think maybe a hiding space every 2-3 rooms around the starting location of enemies would be a better fit. As while running from your life that last thing you want to have to do is stop an open your map to find where you marked a hiding spot on the map.The enemy AI while mostly fine could do with a tweak or two to stop it door camping (a complaint I noted was also brought up by some of the Steam forums). Also the enemies simply appearing without warning (it only happens twice or three times all game) make any damage taken here feel cheap, one such instance being a particularly egregious example as the enemy comes out of a vent / box without warning right infont of you. These instances of door camping and enemies dropping in instantly without warning in a couple of locations simply feel cheap and the player feeling like they were somehow cheated takes away from the experience. If the enemies spawning are meant to be an attempted jumpscare then maybe them being hallucinations or  illusions would work better. To stop the door camping it might be an idea for the developer in slightly increase the distance at which enemies can break through into adjacent rooms.

Speaking of cheap stuff the forced terror sections feel often quite cheap. As your mental state drops in the game you have the screen haze up and darkness close in and your actual health drop. This would be fine if in certain sections the game didn't force your sanity to drop essentially creating areas where your health slowly eats away. I think the idea of these sections is to push the player on and give a feeling or terror and panic. The problem is they feel like a very cheap way to drain precious resources like health items. These sections could be made to work if the game gave a way to undo their impact after passing through (and make passing through a second time not induce the same terror effect) Maybe have some lights turn on or appear in the terror areas to make them safter to pass through to backtrack / explore more. Maybe a single use thing like a cuddly bear toy that vanishes when approached but restores you either to full or to a state recorded before entering the  terror section.

The final problems (and this is minor t best) would be to add better visual feedback when Annubis (Claire's pet dog) barks. In game Annubis barking is designed to alert you to the presence of enemies and put you on edge but with only an small subtle animation showing this. I feel it needs more visual feedback such as either the word bark being displayed or (and saving on any possible translation) a small sound wave like cone being shown after Annubis barks. The second one is can the torch please give consistent light levels. I understand that in real life torches get dimmer as in the game but when you're limiting the use of the torch via the battery draining it feels rather cheap that often you'll have a far worse torch beam due to being near the end of the battery. As visual feedback it's nice but in a gameplay sense it's annoying. As an alternative maybe as the battery runs out have the torch sometimes cut out for a half second before returning to when the battery is on its last 1/4.

What seems so strange is the game despite all its flaws has some very nice touches. the different lighting effects from the lighter, the torch, candles in the level and electric lighting look beautiful and unique to gaze at. The Lighter creating a warm circle of light while the Torch given a nice white light beam you can direct around and candles giving off an eerie red glow. As I previously mentioned the animations and even idle animation are quite cool and well done. Annubis while being a relatively small part of the game really is amazingly done as a horror tool as while he will sometimes bark at shadows putting you on edge only to let you down, boy do you miss him when he's not around (and I really dislike dogs normally so making me miss a virtual one is a testament to his design).

So what I'm going to do is lay out what I think is the best way to experience this game / play through it and some hints / tips.

Self impose on you the following:

  • Only use grandma's candy when you absolutely have to (such as in the terror areas)
  • Accept that your first playthrough will not be a 100% run, you playthrough, get an ending then play again to go for 100% (and a 3rd time on new game + if you want the secret S ending)
  • Understand you can't save everyone and accept that whatever choices you make stay. This is one game you really need to play essentially with your choices etc locked in and accept them.
  • Use the following puzzle hints below and gameplay hints to help you as hopefully they won't spoil too much.

So Puzzle and gameplay hints

The Hospital 

The Clock

- Set it to the same time as the others

 

The Lift

- You can close the vents. There are two in the lift one on the left one on the right.

 

Staff portraits 

- The dead hide their secrets well

 

Power puzzle

- Down is not the same as turning it off, just mess about till you get all green lights.

School puzzles and stuff

General

- The nobodies (the harmless creatures in the area) often scratch holes in the wall you can get through. This happens at specific times in the game so you're going to need to keep an eye out for them (especially as they don't get marked on the map)

 

Chess puzzle

- Read the pieces and relate the messages to the identity of  the chess pieces, So pawn, bishop, king, queen, castle and knight

 

Piano

-The biggest clue is the bear song but you can solve this one by experimenting away.

 Apartments

 

Doll house

- the clues for this one are all in the subsequent rooms, just remember to light a candle for the dead.

 

Frat guy

- He might not have cleaned everything out just of where he is, just look about the apartment.

 

Symbols on the wall

-Look up the 5 stages of loss / grief and that's your order.

 

The flesh maze

-You want to go through the flesh doors as these will lead you to where you need to go.

 

Valve puzzle 

-  33 minutes past 3 in that order

Verdict:

Claire is a game that really should be studied and examined by prospective game developers and anyone making a horror game. 

For anyone making a horror game it's a beat for beat instruction manual on how to create real horror and true dread in players from building tension to creating horror.

For anyone designing a game it shows some of the common mistakes it's easy to make and shows the importance of designing the game to be intuitive for players and to minimise the player hassle.

As a normal player the game is something well worth experiencing especially if you happen to be a horror game fan who has been let down by almost all big budget horror games recently as they tried to become action games (Alien Isolation being the exception to that rule of letdowns). Even if you've only a passing interest in horror games this is one cheaper title to look out for. Oh and while I started playing in daylight I made in my intention to wait till night and finish the game in a near pitch black room lit only by the glow from the screen and my controller. It was utterly terrifying such that I'm sure I was shaking for upwards of an hour  after finishing the game.

The story is beautifully crafted and while some games claim to be emotional this is one game that can legitimately make such a claim as it runs the gamut of emotions from: Horror to relief, Love to loneliness and despair to joy. This is a game that will make you feel sad, happy, confused and many other things. So if you wanted a game with an emotion other than despair / sadness this is a game worth playing.

 

Now the tough part. Can I recommend Claire? No, at least not at full price as it's both brilliantly made and yet so rough round the edges. As a first title by Hailstorm games I have to give them credit for making what seems like quite an ambitious title even if it is this ambition that's often it's downfall, along with a few common issues. So I'm going to do something strange now and give a list of the bare minimum changes it would need to get a recommendation.

  • re-bindable controller buttons (including using the shoulder or trigger buttons)
  • A minimap of some kind, even a static picture of the map orientated the same as the in game room being shown on screen would help.
  • Fix the enemy AI to stop door camping
  • Some kind of visual feedback when Annubis barks
  • Do something with the forced terror areas be it removing the impact to allow backtracking through them without the risk and a thing at the end to undo the damage they do to the player or mark them more clearly or even better have the terror immune items have a timer say 2 minutes not simply a single room effectiveness.
  • Sort out the save system if possible to make it easier to delete old saves

 

If you see the game on discount this is definitely worth a play especially on sale where I've seen it drop below the price of many paid for tablet games.

Trailer

                   

Score:

4 out of 6

This score is based on the game at it's standard retail price. on discount it may be more acceptable for people to overlook its flaws. The only thing holding it back from far higher scores is the need for a little more polishing to iron out problems.

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6:30 PM on 04.07.2015  

"Gaming should be for everyone...... I didn't mean you though"

                            

Ok I didn't want to write this. Not really. I was hoping I could get away from insanity for a while but hey, insanity keeps drawing me back in. Here in the UK the election is coming up so we have constant Politics and when I come to talk about gaming I'm getting constant US politics. So guess what you're getting a blog of me talking about politics
So this is a thing now ?

 

Ok let me make this quite clear so everyone knows it. I think politics in the US is batshit crazy. The two party system is insane and hugely divides people into two camps pushing to be more extreme constantly. There seems to be little middle ground and honestly the party I voted for in the UK did almost the exact same as Obama, infact they went further and made gay marriage legal (not simple civil partnership but actually wedding the same as straight weddings) , and this was a very good thing for society in my opinion. Now one of the clauses in the bill was religious right to refusal, what this means in practicality is if a priest refuses to do the wedding or allow the church to be used on religious ground then they can do claiming faith reasons. My take on this is fair enough, it's the church's choice, it's their land and the priests are acting on their behalf. I also think the church is entirely backwards and completely braindead for taking this stance against gay marriage because why cling to this tiny and stupid part of the bible but ignore so much else. Here I think it's only fair to let this Mitch Ben song Parodying the anti gay marriage argument do the heavy lifting.

                    

I'm quite a staunch Atheist and I advise people never to ask for my opinion on the church or religion as it tends to offend religious people. Now I also don't force it on people, I don't do the Jehovah's witness thing and feel it's my duty to spread my view to others. It's my personal view.
I think any business in that chooses to take a stance on politics is running a huge risk. I think any business that chooses to take a stance due purely to faith is downright insane but whatever it's their values and ultimately their dumbass choice.

That's what freedom is really. Letting people do stupid shit, you can tell them why it's stupid but ultimately without eroding their freedom you can't stop them short of it being illegal and calling in the government to remove the freedom and stop them.
So yeh............ I doubt it's some grand scheme objection to my politics which caused me to vote for these guys in the past too.

                                 

Yes that really is just one of the many political parties here in the UK.

Oh and in case someone is going to say "What about gender neutral bathrooms?" Every time someone says that I can't help but think of this.

                

(Look if you're going to have them everywhere people will fuck in them) That's pretty much all I have to say on that issue.

At some stage as fandoms grow maybe some people need to learn to share? I mean is it truly inclusivity when only certain beliefs and certain people are allowed in. I get the "Challenge the status Quo" but is replacing the status quo people are claiming was "Keeping people out because of how it was" with one actually telling people to their face to leave any better?

I mean isn't this basically what hipsters are defined as? Jumping from what's considered cool to other cool things and constantly claiming to have been there first and how everyone else should leave?
I keep saying Gaming is a big house and everyone else is welcome to their room and to have their room how they like. The problem keeps coming when people insist the entire house fits and follows just what they want.

Now I know I've most likely already set someone angrily clacking away on their keyboard about inclusivity etc. So I have to ask where should the line be drawn? I'm not joking. Should the line be drawn merely up to where you want? What about the children? Is it not ageism to make a game kids shouldn't play too? As gaming grows part of it is understanding that not every game will be fine for everyone. I mean there are now people claiming Pokemon is triggering them.

 

There's a line between having sympathy for someone and trying to sanitise the world. The more people are wrapped up the worse it is when they step outside their bubble to deal with things. At some point people have to take responsibility to their own issues in life, understand them and work through them or at least try to and not expect the entire world to bend to deal with them.

Now I know people are going to think maybe this is just a few fringe idiots and I wish it is but there's even been a push against Bloodborne recently claiming it should have been scored low because casual players won't enjoy it. Is that not a problem with casual players not learning about the game and appreciating what demographic it's for? I don't go round telling fans of Mama Mia that the film is bad because I as someone who enjoys sci-fi didn't enjoy the film (Yes I have sat through Mama Mia, it rates as the 4th worst film I've ever endured). The firing on Bloodborne has even had Frobes joining in on it and of course a quite familiar face to many claiming anyone who liked Bloodborne and gave it a good review was promoting elitism.

"Oh but you laid into Gone Home you hypocritical bastard"

So before anyone actually makes that comment allow me to explain my stance on Gone Home as clearly I stated my opinion on it and the justification for me not finding it very good was the cliched story (backed up with this link showing it was pretty cliche) and little to no gameplay depth. I was asking if I'd missed what made Gone Home such a celebrated game worthy of praise as I couldn't see it. However with let's say Life is Strange I can absolutely see why people are celebrating it. I can say it doesn't seem like something I'd enjoy, but it has more complexity and work behind it which I can appreciate from reading information on it and watching footage . For me I still don't see what the demographic for Gone Home is intended to be short of people already interested in Social Justice who just want to feel good about themselves or those who love sniffing their own farts, it does little as a game. To me Gone Home is about the level of those P.E.T.A. flash games the point isn't the game but the message, yet Gone Home is a product selling itself too. I'm not even going to come down and call all casual games junk, yes there's plenty of junk but I've been playing through Peggle 2 recently and there are plenty of other good casual games out there.

                                   

I can also see why many people object to the idea of games becoming more casual. I'm not a Devil May Cry fan but I have DMC Devil May Cry as it seemed interesting and a bit different to the previous games. However even I can admit it's a joke when I'm getting fairly regular S ranks in combat and barely getting near being killed. When I played Halo 1 through on easy then started Halo 2 and found easy to be boring, by Halo 3 I was on hard mostly. I even went back to Halo 1 at one point and tried it on hard only to get destroyed. I can see peoples frustration over not having a decent challenge in games. It just baffles me to see people trying to push for Bloodborne to be made for casual gamers yet it's a game made by the makers of the Souls series who are known for making tough punishing games , that's their demographic.

I know this blog came off as every rant like but I'm just fed up of this bullshit now. First we see people claim they're being intentionally excluded and that [insert fandom] is alienating to them and should change to include them. Now we're seeing almost the same people claiming that anyone who doesn't agree with them should now leave the [insert fandom] as no-one should make allowances for anyone but them.

The Phrase being bounded about has been "Oh people are just mad because we're taking their toys from them" often followed by "The stupid pissbabies" except the missing part seems to be "We're taking them and claiming it as our own that must adhere to what we want and not letting anyone else have a say". All this is being done in the name of equality yet it appears to be equality taken to it's most extreme end where every thing must be made for everyone and no-one can have products made for their preference. It's almost socialism to the nth degree the idea that everyone is the absolute same similar to some aspects of Bolshevik rule. I'm not saying every acpect of socialism is bad and all of capitalism is great before anyone thinks that. Both systems taken to the extreme have their problems and both systems have their benefits. Normally when some-one takes anothers toy and claims it as their own it's children, the actions of children. Is it not adults who are the ones who step in and say how people need to learn to share. Be that toys in this case cultures and fandoms. If having your sociopilitical agenda being dominant and never challenged is so important to you that you'll tell others to leave a fandom then I have to question how strongly your really care about the fandom. If you're telling other people to leave the fandom then it's clear you don't wish to share it and jsut want to use it selfishly for your own ends.

It says something that this now a culture war not to stand on the gates and keep people out but a culture war for the right to so much as co-exist without people trying to turn video gaming into a tool to teach their personal values. 

I've even seen people calling for anyone not subscrbing to specific belief systems in their entirity and supporting certain people to be banned entirely from conventions. 

It's almost ironic to think though that the side using socilist beliefs are approaching gaming from the capitalistic angle that they are the consumer and as such this the product should be made for them. Often times now ignoring the freedom of the artist to make their own choices.

I will be damned before I watch people push for a moral code system for video games similar to the Hay's code for films or the Comics Code Authority. I will be damned before I let  people turn an industry of artistic expression into merely some symbol of how they wish society was and how they wish the world bowed before their will.

If you can't happily agree to co-exist and merely enjoy the hobby with other people then I hope you enjoy the war you declared because it's going to be a lonely and tough time trying to impose your will when you demand absolute dedication and belief from people or tell them to leave. History is littered with examples of what happens when someone tries to forcibly impose their will on others, maybe learn from it before it's too late.

         

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3:06 PM on 04.05.2015  

Review: Jazzpunk

Name: Jazzpunk

Format: PC

Price: £10.99 / $14.99

Review: JazzPunk is a game that really suckered me into loving it using a retro style that will be familiar to fans of older Sci-fi and spy espionage shows such as The Avengers (No not the Marvel ones) and Danger Man. In fact the intro to Jazzpunk is very of the style of titles used by Maurice Binder, just take a look at the intro sequence for the film The Billion Dollar Brain for example. (Some flashing images)

                    

Throw in so retro futurism style elements such as flying cars and robots but film still being black and white and computers still using tape storage and you have a very stylish game at least starting out. The main problem withJazzpunk is while it has a great high flying start it seemingly loses much of this in favour and random (purple Monkey Dishwasher esc) humour. The game for the most part is at it's strongest when it's playing to it's spy theme and weakest when it's deviating from this.

The gameplay is a mix of puzzle and exploration with random somewhat referential minigames and other elements scattered about. For the most part the references feel like they're to solid enough franchises and entities that this isn't going to lose much with age just like the hatred towards Friday by Rebecca Black.

To the games credit there is a rather suspiring amount of dialogue for each character. To it's detriment the subtitles often only tell part of the actual dialogue meaning this is a game you have to hear to really appreciate much of the humour especially from side characters.

The Initial level feels very open with plenty to explore and a long twisting series of tasks and plenty of colourful characters to talk to. The level feels very full and works well with it's take on the spy cliche' of sneaking into the Soviet embassy to recover stolen data. The second level however seemingly cuts a lot of this freedom in favour of a very linear directed experience switching the spy aesthetic so something feeling more like the fugitive mixed with blade runner. It's this second level that really brings in the more random humour and it feels very much to the games detriment. The third levels set in a hotel is nice to explore and the story aspect plays on the cliche' of a darling mission to steal intelligence from the villain via a slightly convoluted plan.

While the third level does have plenty to explore and arguably more to do than the first level it feels at times still rather empty. For example at one point you can acquire a master keycard for all the hotel rooms (the nice touch being all of the keys are computer punch cards) the problem being only 2 rooms seemingly have anything in them. A comment by a member of staff that the hotel is haunted lead me to explore many of the rooms to see if there was some hidden joke but there was nothing. The third level feels like it had a huge scope but had to be cut back by the developer such that if feels very underpopulated despite there being arguably more to do, it's just spread thinner.

The fourth Cyberspace inspired level works for the most part and the very surrealistic humour actually finally seems to have found a place it works with some very well thought out gags such as a fake blue screen of death.

The Final level though just seemingly ends up entirely filled with random humour except a single joke about picking a lock. While some of them work it just feels like they threw as many random jokes in as they could and yet the jokes don't feel evenly spread as some parts of the level feel absolutely packed while other areas seen one or two jokes. The final level also feels like the story elements embrace this random humour far too much while discarding most of the spy theme. While it does sound great to have some grand confrontation with the villain as they take you on in a rigged series of contests but it just feels to random and too out there, not least thanks to the flying golf carts. The last level doesn't feel like a very satisfying pay off to the game at least it didn't to me as it felt like it had abandoned all of the spy theme to simply do some weird twist ending out of no-where. Now this kind of ending itself isn't bad as The Twilight Zone and Tales of the Unexpected have shown on TV in the past but if felt very out of place here with no build up or hint it was about to happen.

The gameplay is quite simplistic very much like a point and click game with some added elements. The minigames range from quite enjoyable parodies to some that feel only just fit for purpose. The stand out one being the cat destruction simulation found on the final level

Verdict:

Overall Jazzpunk feels like a game that set out with big aims and starts off well but just seemingly loses its way as the game progresses as it drops the spy spoof theme in favour of random humour. It feels like a game that the developer wanted to do much more with as sizable chunks of some levels are devoid of anything and just left as almost entirely empty space.

Can I recommend Jazzpunk at full its present price? The answer is no, I do think it's worth experiencing and picking up if it turns out with a decent discount on sale. At its present price I feel Jazzpunk doesn't manage to justify its price other than being "something a bit different and a bit weird".

At its best Jazzpunk will have you in fits of laughter, at its worst jokes will have you scratching your head going "huh.... well that was a thing".  

Score:

Out of 6

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5:29 PM on 04.03.2015  

[NSFW] 10 Games to offend your sensibilities with

So a section of the internet lost its collective Spaghetti over a joke from Pillars of Eternity. So I decided it would be worth me compiling a list on one had for those who really do want to see quite how far video games have gone and on the other hand for those twee little oversensitive twats about to show you what really offensive games look like. And no I'm not going to include the two most commonly known ones that are actually offensive and were made by hate groups (no I'm not talking about the NRA video game). There are games offensive enough to cause Mary Whitehouse to raise from the dead only to die all over again in horror that such offensive content can exist. Oh and just the be more clear the games aren't going to be purely porn games either.

10. Power Mad. This one gets it's place on the list because it places its sights purely at offending world leaders (or at least they were at the time). The game itself is a very basic turn based management sim. You have to try and swell your population and kill the enemies and balance construction of your army, your nuclear stock pile and your supply of hippie peace circles. Yes I said Hippie peace circles as once you dedicate enough population to make one, you and throw the hippies at incoming nukes to block them. Oh and it's a game where if you wish you can play as a representation of Osama Bin Laden and nuke the United States

9. Conkers Bad Furday. Take a cute kids patformer and mix it with a drunken night out and a copy of playboy and you get Conker, a money and sex obsessed squirrel who loves the sauce. This is a game where one bosses is a giant pile of human shit that sings Opera.

                                           

Other bosses include having to piss out fire demons and attacking a giant pair of balls. Packed from start to finish with swearing, sexual references and of course a bit of the old ultraviolence Conker is truly a game to behold.

8) My Ex Boyfriend the Space Tyrant. A Gay Adventure game featured in many publications aime at gay men and made by a presumably gay male developer. This game offended so many people seemingly in the Steam greenlight comments that people wanted it prevented from being on Steam for two main reasons. The first being religious objection esc arseholes, the second more surprisingly were people offended it was "too gay" or "Not the right kind of gay". Honestly if people were claiming that this was a representation of the entire gay community then the next game really doesn't show straight White Males in a great light.

7) Leisure Suit Larry Magna Cum Laude. Oh this is a good one where do I start? How about the sex pest style antics of Larry himself in his quest to get on a dating show, to do this rather bizarrely he must sleep with women round the campus. This game upset people, it upset everyone seemingly from the monkey masturbation mini game to the drunken sorority to the stereotyping and the now rather infamous Summer Nights parody song.

                                     

There's plenty more to be offended by but yes enjoy playing and a quite unattractive straight white guy and he tries every possible trick to sleep with women showing all us unattractive straight white guys a lying little toads with no moral standards and values. Go enjoy.

6) Killing Floor, What you don't think killing floor is offensive eh? Ok so maybe popping the heads of mutants etc doesn't sound too offensive until you realise the mad scientist who designed them actually designed them in the images of people. The stalker a naked female monster that can make itself near invisible before striking it's suggested in the games lore was inspire by the lead scientists impression of his Ex wife.

5) Splatterhouse (the remake) - So low on this list because one publication described it as

Almost cute to see a game try so hard to offend people, as though people in this day and age are so backwards to be up in arms over a piece of media.

Splatterhouse (the remake) pumps the gore up to 11 and has collectable sexy revealing pictures complete with boobs showing in some. This is a game where you can rip off an enemies arm and beat them to death with it and vs one of the boss monsters you reach into it's ass an pull out it's intestines.

4) Postal 2 - This would be higher on the list if it didn't manage to offend everyone. From depictions of terrorists to anti video game protestors. This is a game where protestors burst into a library and set it on fire because the books aren't teaching the right ideas. I mean what kind of crazy monsters would hold mass book burnings of books who's ideas they dislike in this day and age.

Oh wait, that actually happened. Hhhhhhmmmmmm

3) NPPD Rush the Milk of Ultraviolent - You play a former addict whom has had her arms cut off and been turned into a police rush unit (a cybernetic sentient police bike). It's up to you to clear up the streets but taking out strange monsters and finding addicts to take back the NPPD whom will most likely be turned into rush units. It doesn't sound too offensive until you happen to run into the final boss, Ultraviolent a bio mechanical computer being used to try and help expand the NPPD rush department by being used and a living womb to grow children to be used in future rush units. Now this last bit is from the developers mouth the final boss throws aborted foetuses at you. Rather than let NPPD use her unborn children as weapons she throws them at you. For those with a morbid curiosity here's the developer on a recorded stream talking about the game, the boss bit happens at about the 35 minute mark.

2) Deer Avenger 3D, Dear Avenger 2 might have stereotypes people in general but Deer Avenger 3D set out to offend. Oh and boy would it to offensive to any Cabella loving redneck. The game is a hunting game but are Bambo the deer your job is to lure in the hunters and then kill them. To do this you have your calls which include "Hey look someone's rather attractive cousin naked in the woods" and "Who left the their pick up truck lights on". With Hunters including the huge fat redneck, the ex military gun nut, the drunk idiot and of course the fur obsessed female hunter. Don't think the game is done though as it has NPC hippie characters whom it takes the piss out of too. This one gets the number 3 spot because while it doesn't seem as offensive as others on this list. You gotta say it has balls to insult people with enough fire arms and beer to do something more than just write an angry email or start a hashtag.

                 

1) Armed and Dangerous. Ok I wanted to do this as a "Can I have some more" but you know what? It is one of the most offensive games ever. How can this be that offensive well how a about a blind man giving a mentally disabled prince a vasectomy. No that's not me taking the piss that's an actual part of one of the games scenes. The game is just insanely over the top and can best be described as Mighty Boosh but in video game form. Insanely random humour and it manages to take the term low brown and wipes it's arse with it as just when you think it's done as it dips into low brow, it then fully jumps in to a large degree.

              

 

Oh and to those of you already writing angry comments about how much this blog offended you and how offensive it was. Please don't bother email Destructoid asking for mre to be fired (as I'm sure some people have done) I'm not a member of Dtoid staff alright. Oh and also this.

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5:34 AM on 04.01.2015  

Half Life 3 coming to PS4 soon

Wow who on earth saw that one coming but I woke up to find my PS4 had updated as had the store and well it's there. Half Life 3 is up for pre-order on the playstation store hinting that the partnership between Valve and Sony will once again pay off for Playstation Gamers.

Having done a bit more digging into this it appears this may have been an accidental leak of the information on Sony's end. Having contacted Sony's press enquiry email for a response I got the following.

Dear Sir, Madam,
Thank you for your enquiry relating to upcoming exclusive Playstation 4 titles. We cannot confirm or deny that the title Half Life 3 will be coming to Playstation 4, until such a time as the title is officially announced. Thank you for informing us about this error that has seemingly occurred with our system putting titles up for pre-order early we have technicians working to rectify this oversight now. We Will be announcing all forthcoming unannounced titles at the coming E3 press conference.


So the big question has to be why would they have a pre-order page up and built for a game that's not coming to the system? I've heard of blind hope from a company but would it be just that.

Either way the coming of Half Life 3 to console will be a huge burst to any console it's released on and the idea of it being only on PS4 and PC could put a huge dent into Microsoft's sales. Not least as the Playstation 4 will be the first of the consoles running a game on the source 2 engine set to try to push the boundaries of gaming.

The initial screenshots of Half Life 3 look extremely impressive if veering close to uncanny valley levels of realistic just take a look at the detail on Eli and Alyx

 

The High quality texture work is clearly on show and hopefully these aren't merely bullshots as it would be impressive to think of this on consoles especially following on from The Order 1886 (except obviously Half Life 3 will have far better gameplay). It also looks like Valve might have implement something similar to Tres FX (if not Tres FX itself) giving the illusion of far more realistic hair.

While no plot details have yet to emerge it does appear (and surprising no-one) that a screenshot even shows the shadowy figure known only as G-Man will be making a return. The eagle eyed amongst you might even recognise his location, possibly suggesting the game will see Gordon Freeman return back to the Black Mesa facility where this all began.

It can't be denied the game looks stunning really and with the suggested streaming technology to be used to load more textures in situ it could also mean lower load times on consoles. This console release should come as a shock to no-one really though as Half Life saw a successful release on PS2 and on the Sega Dreamcast so such a move from Valve isn't without precedent.

I'd just like to close off by saying, before you leave a comment below please scroll back up and read the date this was posted on. Yeh. For those of you who saw through this, hopefully you won't blame a guy for trying and will enjoy this as the bit of fun it was intended to be. Oh and if this appears on Kotaku you know the person posting it was too lazy to read down to this point.

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9:34 PM on 03.26.2015  

Can I have some more: Primal

Ok this one I want to see become a remake or reboot or just something for a very specific reason. I never finished it because the controls were arse. It felt very much like resident evil Tank controls and that just killed the game for more plain and simple. So you might be thinking why on earth would I want this remade?

 It's quite simple really. The concept, setting characters and ideas behind the game are just stunning. You play Jennifer Tate 21 years old and in search of her boyfriend whom was kidnapped by a demon. Sounds like a very simple story as you play Jen traversing the 4 demonic dimensions. The Twist being that Jen herself may not truly be of earth and learns she can take on the forms of the 4 main demonic races. Suddenly you have less Buffy and more of it's own unique thing as Jen transforms into demonic forms and really take on the occupants of the realms on head on.

 

With Bloodborne recently released as a Playstation exclusive and the near constant calls for strong female protagonists this is a game that time seemingly forgot and it's owned by Sony. It would be so easy to reboot this and fix the problems it had and just watch as the series explodes. I mean the world alone in the games, the idea of 4 demonic realms etc is ripe to explore and if the remake does well there's a clear opportunity to expand the scope and make it into more of a franchise than a single outing. Hell the game could even go further into elements of the Lovecraft Mythos at some point if it became a franchise. This is quite a dark game from a time when games really weren't being that dark and with modern gaming and standards this could really be made into a game for adults able to be dark and brutal.

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11:18 AM on 03.25.2015  

Reading books is too hard

So there's been a lot of sentiment going round that having to actually learn to read books is too hard. I mean this is a form of entertainment where it can literally take people years to be competent and fluent in being able to read. Without the ability to read however the medium really does nothing for a person. They cannot appreciate the product. Asking people to dedicate so much time for something that to many is a hobby is astounding in this world.

Just think about it. Reading as a hobby is highly exclusionary too in its present state. If you're blind or partially sighted most of this joy can be lost to you from conventional books. It's time readers of the world to make a change. We should force everyone to abandon this toxic ink based system of oppressions that promotes ableism. Everyone should be forced to learn and read books only in braille. It's ok Harry Potter has been converted into braille too.

                                     

Oh, that's not the entire series all those files etc are the equivalent of a single Harry Potter Book when combined. So I implore you fellow readers, help to stop the oppressive litriarchy by petitioning your local libraries to stop stocking the toxic and exclusionary print books. After all you wouldn't want people to feel excluded and help promote such an exclusionary culture right ?

 

 

 

 

                    

And if anyone hadn't realised this was me taking the piss then I'd feel slightly concerned. I decided to write this in response to EA suggesting their games were too hard for people to learn and many others suggesting games were too hard. I mean you have to learn how to hold and use a controller. It's not like people have managed to do that successfully in other forms of media for years.

                                      

Ok maybe a bad example and some people still struggle to program their VCR (or whatever the modern version of one people use is). The recent pushes for inclusion of everyone in video gaming while noble to an extent seems to be getting slightly misguided and extreme now. The push has been to claim games can seemingly only be inclusive if they also cater to peoples personal politics and socio political beliefs, the big problem with that is there are so many social and political beliefs out there many at odds with others than trying to cater to everyone is going to be impossible. If people feel excluded from a game due to it not fitting their politics perfectly then so fucking what, it's not the games fault for not bending over backwards. Here's a radical idea, maybe you're not the target audience for the game? If it offends you that a game is allowed to not appeal specifically to your politics then maybe it's worth asking yourself why? Why can't you accept a game with different standards and ideas.

You want to know the most inclusive game so far on the market?

                 


Yeh it's Flappy Bird and even then it could impact those with a phobia of birds. Or those who are blind. Unfortunately it's not possible to include everyone especially those unwilling to make sacrifices or compromises themselves. Art can and should be allowed to offend you and while people will also claim "But it's consumer product so I the consumer am always right and it should always appeal to me and whatever I want" I say fuck you, you whiny smeghead, you can criticise the product and see if people find the criticism to be a valid one when you explain it but it's extremely entitled to call for people to listen and believe and not ask for you to actually validate your reasoning.

              

The idea that games are somehow too hard to learn is almost a joke considering two of the most popular E-sports games at present are League of Legends and Dota 2. Games which are considered to have a 100 hour period where you're still learning the basics. Heck 1,000 hours is still considered to be learning the games if you've not played a Moba before. The idea that all games need to be simplified down to the level of say Gone Home to appeal to people then the question becomes what next? To go back to the reading example all books aren't Spot the Dog. So why should all games be asked to remove any and all complexity or be called exclusionary I mean are we going to start claiming sports are exclusionary because people aren't all super great at them all automatically too? If you want to define something as exclusionary simply because not every single person is catered to then there is no such thing as an inclusive product because somehow, some way someone will be excluded.

Just to be clear this isn't me arguing against easy to make changes which can help inclusivity but it's me pointing out that there is a limit to how far inclusivity can reasonably go. As for the claims about diversity. Diversity should be a macro scale thing, asking for each game to try and make some quota is insane.

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8:52 AM on 03.21.2015  

Black Sails is Michael Bay's apology.

Black Sails is an Amazon original series following the exploits of the inhabitants of a small Island living outside of the control of states and standard governments. The Island is run by the governor Guthrie the Guthrie trading corporation essentially a fencing network used by pirates to shift their plunder. While Governor Guthrie mostly stays out of it the day to day running is done by his daughter Elanor who is mostly responsible for building up the islands town and facilities. Disputes between captains and the threat of a possible approaching English fleet are just some of the problems on the Island. With a cast of almost entirely relatively unknown directed by Michael Bay it sounds like a wasted concept. It's not and hopefully I can explain why it's worth at least a look at it.

Michael Bay........... it's hard to really say just how much Ire there is towards him for the abomination he turned transformers into in the end.

I think that picture goes a long way to saying it though. So honestly I expected Black Sails to be pretty terrible. However what I found is somehow the restrictions of the setting somehow roped in the master of explosion into making something actually worth watching. Somehow Black Sails lets Bay showcase that he has some actual skill under all those explosions able to film a variety of other scenes and tones from Romance to scenes on intrigue.

Black Sails manages to take the pirate and high seas adventure genre and take it beyond Jack Sparrow into something that can best be described as Game Of Thrones on the high seas.Love, agendas, Betrayals and power struggles are a regular part of the Black Sails world as the idea of honour among thieves is put to the test against those trying to make big scores to avoid the "Civilised" society that would see them dead. Of course this is the age of pirates so expect you can expect plenty of sex and violence too as is befitting such a series.

                                                     

Ah!!!! a wild social justice warrior. Don't worry it would be hard for all but the most determined oversensitive Ideologue to find much to object to. From its diverse to diverse characters Black Sails really does show you can do diversity without preaching about it with its strong female characters like Anne "Cuthroat" Bonnie (referred to as the most dangerous pirate to cross on the island) and the bisexual Elanor Guthrie running the town.

The true genius of Black Sails is managing to take a way of life seen as for the brutal and uncivilised and shine new light on it. Showing those who essentially live on murdering and theft as sympathetic characters for whom being a pirate is just a job to maintain their way of life. The series poses the question who really are the uncivilised? Those who try to force their will and rule onto others or those who merely wish to live their lives and not have people interfering. Black Sails shows pirates in a whole new light rather than rum soaked cutthroats it portrays them as an organised band with their own rules and society a place so civilised injury pay is a thing.

So with Season 2 out soon to buy and Season 1 on Amazon (you don't need prime you can buy an individual episode to test the waters). Honestly if you're looking for a series to try while you wait for Game of Thrones to come back, I'd day give Black Sails a try, if nothing else you know the explosions will look good.

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8:50 PM on 03.17.2015  

Can I have some more: Gungrave

So I wanted to come up with another article series just so I could talk about some older titles that I really enjoyed and were a bit weird or different. Titles that honestly I'd love to see more of or ideas from them used in future titles.

Gungrave. A £20 budget PS2 game that most people probably haven't heard much about.
What makes Gungrave stand out is just how well it holds up and how different it is. Rather than allowing both being a budget title and being in that awkward PS2 era, where 3D character models still looked very jagged, it managed to create something that holds up even quite well today. The art direction of the game really does make it seem like a comic book has sprung to life using the limitations to its advantage and hiding any problems from the era with it's artwork. In fact the game is so much like an anime or comic book that it was actually made into an anime series. That's right I said anime series based off the game not the other way round. What other small budget PS2 release that had little to no fanfare at release could ever claim to have then had an anime series based upon it.

Gameplay wise Gungrave also does things a little different by being a spectacle shooter, and no not in the Bulletstorm way. The best way I can describe the gunplay in Gungrave is to say it's like playing a cleric from the film Equlibrium. Grave while in combat is extremely animated and stylised really making you feel like a killing machine as you mow down waves of enemies. Rather than feeling like guns the weapons feel like more a extension of the character much like the melee weapons in spectacle fighter games. This is juxtaposed against Grave while out of combat where his movement feels slower and more sluggish more inkeeping with the idea that Grave is a walking dead man, especially as Grave carries with him a large coffin chained to his back.

Warning Video contains flashing images / Strobe like effect.

                   

The game also encourages players to keep the action and mayhem going with the beat system, as you shoot enemies or destructible objects you build up beats, if you fail to keep the chain going then your beats are collected and added to your special meter. In essence beats are your combo multiplier and the higher you get it the more you gain on your special meter.
At any point in the game you can unleash a special attack be it a whirling dance of gunfire good for taking out groups of smaller enemies or firing large highly damaging rockets, good for taking out tougher enemies.

As you progress in the game you learn more about your capabilities as and the cool tricks you can pull off. For example it's possible to melee swing your coffin to hit enemy rockets back at their sender , or at other enemies. Another example being learning how to improve your level score as the game rates both combat abilities, time etc but also how stylishly you did it. That's right Gungrave gives you a combat style rating and to help improve it there's a pose button....... no I'm not joking there's actually a button in game to strike a stylish hero pose, imagine that today with modern consoles capture ability.
Every level almost has its own enemies based round the levels theme and how it fits into the games story. One level might see you fighting street thugs, another has you fighting the police and in yet another you're fighting scientists. It sounds as though this huge enemy variety would be a problem but in reality each settings has enemies with the same kind of traits from foot soldiers to huge hulking tougher units.

 

What truly sets Gungrave apart are the bosses each feeling like a major threat be it due to their mutated forms or in one case the lack of such a form. Rather than feeling like bigger tanker monsters each boss feels refreshingly unique. Part of the unique feeling is generated by allowing you to finish each boss off with a unique special finishing move in true anime style. These finishing moves can vary from turning the coffin into a huge high calibre machine gun or even a back mounted rocket launcher, each played out with its own cutscene sequence showing the impact.

giant fist

^Yes that is one of the bosses and yes it is a giant arm attached to a wheel.

Now I mentioned before Grave is dead and I said it got turned into an anime series, this alludes to the games rather impressive story which is a bit of a twist of the revenge motivation. You are Grave taking down the crime organisation that took everything from you by trying to kill you. As you soon find out though not everything about Grave is quite as you'd think as he may not have just been some unlucky person who go in the way of the local gangsters.

One major thing Gungrave brings to the table which I really think modern games could benefit from is rewarding replaying the game. Not just with better scores but with more stuff. Each time you complete the game you're awarded a set of smash bros esc figures from a level in the game. Each completion gives you more figures to look at one full levels worth at a time. This idea of rewarding the player with in game assets just shows such promise and reward for those who want to look deeper into the game. I mean think about it, the models are already in the game and essentially what is presented is a very stylised character viewer but because of that extra work it makes such a simple thing feel rewarding. Additionally after you first playthrough you unlock cheats and the ability to activate bullet time at will. I can only imagine playing a modern Version of Gungrave and combining modern game capture with slow motion gun fighting.

In the end I'd love to see more Gungrave because it's got what plenty of games seem to miss these days, good simple fun, the same kind of simple fun in the same vein as Dynasty Warriors. A game that honestly wasn't meant to hit it big but did so because it did something different.

Now before someone in the comments says "But what about Gungrave Overdose that was the sequel?" Yes it was and while it's not a bad game it does have its issues with trying to keep some level of sanity. I mean overdose is a game where you can play and ghost who fights using an electric guitar and one of the bosses is all the bosses of Gungrave sewed together into one giant boss monster........... yes really.

 

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12:14 AM on 03.08.2015  

Why I'm glad I went PS4

So I can't seem to avoid controversy even when I try to avoid it directly, so I thought what's the oldest most controversial video games debate going I can do something on. Well I haven't fired any shots in the present console war so I think it's time to correct that. Oh and this is also remembering I'm not simple someone who only plays on console. I'm am however, someone who does make choices as to which console he wants to own and doesn't generally buy all the consoles simple to get the exclusives. So to all two of the Xbone fans still left, get your pitch forks ready
Also let's get this out the way. This is what will make me buy a Wii U

Or Maybe this

 But Nintendo is weird in that their first party stuff always provides a reason to buy the console eventually.

So I've chosen Sony this generation as my first next gen machine. I was a big Xbox fan last generation but I noticed things turning after the PSN hack incident and Sony vowing to make things up to people as they did with PSN+ and the free games there. This forced Microsoft into playing a game of catch up.

It wasn't initially so much that Sony won me as a customer as Microsoft lost me as one through the decisions it made. The idea of an always online console and my previously stated dislike for Kinect were two of the bigger factors. Add to that the general discontent from indie developers and incidents where not once but twice Microsoft was significantly late on payments. Even suggestions from slightly better known indie developers that Microsoft was going downhill. With their rather bizarre release parity rules for indie developers Microsoft seemed intent on shooting themselves in the foot.

So having got a PS4 I'm actually rather glad I got it, as it's really the little touches I appreciate for example:

Being able to use a stereo headset without having to pay the console maker $30 to do so.

For those who didn't know Microsoft actually made that product and it's required to use stereo headsets on the Xbox One. That's right you have to pay extra to be able to use a stereo headset, mean while the PS4 is letting me plug even headsets designed for use with mobile phones in.

Voice commands without needing an NSA spy camera Kinect to do it.

Remember how people were constantly talking about how Kinect and the software / firmware being what allowed the Xbox one to interpret speech ? Well I can do similar things on the Ps4 and I'm doing it with a cheap headset and nothing else. You know what else though, the console UI hasn't been designed to be better with Kinect on PS4 meaning I can navigate the thing far easier.

No shitty release parity system.

This one was a big one for me. The release parity system is one of the biggest annoying hurdles on the Xbox one for indie developers. The parity system means that if you want to release a game on the Xbone it has to release on the Xbone either first or at the same time as any other platform including PC. What this means is indie developers have to put in more work to make sure they have a console version being released either first or at the same time as any other platform. Oh and this is with Microsoft getting rid of the XNA system and introducing a baffling web for developers to climb through.

Getting games at the start of the month

One of the big things that has always annoyed me with Games with Gold is how it works. One title comes in at the start of the month and the next replaces it on the 15th of each month. With PSN the games are all at once from the 5th of each month and on top of that all the titles are there for the full month. This means there's less time to miss out on the games. Oh and the PSN+ free games often include cross buy games meaning on PS4 I get 3 different games each month.

While the PSN+ games aren't all full release boxed titles I have to say they're often titles I've either not got on console but do have on PC or other platforms meaning I now get the console version of a game. Or in many cases get a game or two I don't own but is actually good.

 Features on Both consoles which I'm glad have finally made it to consoles

Redirecting Audio to your headset.
Of all the features to become a thing this one is truly something I've been waiting on. There have always been ways to do this with more expensive headsets or you can plug into the TV directly however with the PS4 and Xbone they've finally integrated a feature present in a only a couple of last gen games.

That's right those games last gen let you redirect some of the audio into the headset to help with immersion. Now you can direct that audio through the controller Headphone jack to your headset. This is feature that's so unknown by people it seems almost criminal.

Power mode settings.

This is one I really like and I'm glad has made it. On the Xbone you can adjust the power settings etc. On the PS4 you can similarly customise the power settings allowing the console in sleep mode to download game updates or digital downloads. Also you can customise if the USB ports are powered to allow you to charge items such as controllers from them.

In the end I'm glad I got the PS4, the more powerful of the consoles out there. A platform allowing more games to release onto it and not trying to constantly shaft consumers and developers alike. An actual games console not something trying to be more about TV and apps than games. In this console war, in the end we know there can only be one true winner.

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9:35 PM on 02.27.2015  

Your Smart Phone is not the bright future of video gaming

 

So Venture beat released a new piece recently about how the console and "core" gaming industry needs to be destroyed for the good of gaming, how core gaming things like consoles are exclusionary and keeping people out of the medium. Even Polygon previously got in on the act saying controllers themselves are keeping people from playing games. I mean the absurdity of a medium where you have to I dunno recognise and learn something to read a book play a game.

                                             

 Ok Ok voice of the reader I'm not going to do this as a piece bashing stupidity in the SJWs again yet. I'm actually going to address a argument that keeps being brought up recently. The idea that smartphones and tablets will replace "core" gaming.

 

Did TV kill the movies ?

 

Serious question did TV kill the movies ?

 

What do you mean it didn't do it? Well TV and film are very similar you can even play films on the TV yet films haven't died out. People still go to the cinema, people still sit their feet stuck to the floor by some unknown substance in a dark room with loads of strangers with overpriced cinema food.

 Ok then do digital cameras still exist ?

 

No really do digital cameras still exist?

 

Well they shouldn't you know you have to learn all that stuff to work them and I mean we've all got cameras on our Smartphones and tablets so why on earth should digital cameras still exist?

 The answer is quite simple. Hardware designed for a specific purpose allows it to excel in that area. It's the reason that PC gaming requires specialised hardware to do it. It's the reason consoles exist to allow access to higher end games without needing to own a PC, it's accessibility plain and simple. The idea that a console let alone a gaming PC is going to be a thing of the past replaced by smartphones and tablets is plainly absurd so let's look into it a bit.

 

Battery Life

                                               

I can manage an hour maybe two out of my tablet if I play Evolve Hunters Quest on it. That's one of the more high end games I've played on a tablet in terms of graphics (and requiring an internet connection). The idea that tablet devices will be able to compete with units drawing on mains power is laughable with modern battery technology. I can't get my smartphone to last a day on standby and people are suggesting they will be the device of choice for Assassins Creed 15 or whatever number we're on in a few years. There are polymer / hydrogen fuel cells batteries being looked at for the future but with even the present level of gaming most smartphones / tablet batteries would die before the introduction is out.

To play higher end games the only way it will work is if the tablet is plugged into the mains which means a nice long mains cord on them running across the room.

 

 

The Heat

 This is a big problem with many devices and I can attest my Galaxy 3 tab gets pretty toasty playing Evolve Hunter's quest. One of the big reason companies suggest using laptop coolers etc is the heat given off by the devices. I mean have people so easily forgotten the red light of death on the 360 ?

                     

Now imagine it's not a 360 with a cooling system but a small slim tablet with next to no cooling system at all on it and that amount of heat from the work being done by the system. The system would be frying itself trying to run things and compute them itself.

  

The controller

 This is seemingly something people have been rallying against for a while. The claims that video game controllers and having to learn to use them is the problem remember what we've had so far, we've had the Wii, the PS Move and the NSA spy camera Kinect. The Wii was a success but can we really call the Kinect or Move such a huge success in terms of revolutionising gaming.

                

I have a touch screen laptop and I still use a mouse rather than the touch screen controls. What control methods give you is context sensitive actions and with a tablet you have to find methods to implement controls for the game. There's a reason most mobile and tablet games go for simplicity and that's because with the control options there's not a lot of complexity you can do without getting very creative with the game or adding virtual buttons onto the thing.

 

 

The Screen

 There's two problems with the tablet / phone screen:

 Firstly it's small so all that fine texture work and effort is going to waste as you can't see the difference too well on such a small device.

 Secondly as part of the control method you'll be covering it with your hands thus missing some of the action and requiring designers to work round the idea of losing a lot of screen space.

 The only way to get round this would either be having to plug it into a second screen. So that's another wire coming off it meaning you've now got the HDMI and power leads coming off this device and still using it as the controller.

  

The marketplace and requirements of the user

 This is a big one and it's one f the main problems. Consoles and tablet / smartphone games fill different functions and have very different designs. console gaming allows a longer more in depth story to be told while mobile and tablet gaming are designed round being able to play in short bursts if a few free minutes. Mobile games are designed so you can play a quick 5 minute burst and them stop having achieved something in each short spell. It's the difference between a 5 minute youtube video and watching a full film.

Are all games going to be reduced down to some super simplified thing with no depth designed round 5 minutes / short periods of play , games not able to use narrative build up techniques as so well. Or is there going to be some weird kind of two tiered market with long play and shortplay games ?

 That's even without looking at how terrible the market is flooded with games and the number of anti-consumer practices. The Mobile market is a toxic place for consumers and developers rife with exploitative micro transactions and popular games constantly cloned and resold. The Mobile market is polluted with so much junk It's very hard to find much of worth residing there.

                  

 

I highly doubt that gaming's future will come in the form of phones / tablets even though they are producing enough revenue to able to get advertising time during the Superbowl.

 

Tablets might play a part in future console maybe with some kind of integration or connection to them. In terms of tablets and mobile phones replacing the need for core gaming hardware though it's plainly absurd such as claiming that cinemas should be shut down because you can watch films on your smartphone. As video gaming grows and technology pushes forwards the technology used to make gaming systems will also move forward no doubt and the requirements for more modern games will simply grow meaning that tablet devices won't stand a huge chance of overtaking the console technology itself. The only part of gaming that tablets pose any real threat to is portable gaming with devices such as the 3DS and Vita and even then due to their controls and being dedicated gaming systems they are still holding on in there. More likely is we'll see the rise of micro PCs like the suggested Steam Box and other devices coming out.

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3:53 PM on 02.22.2015  

Dying Light censored to avoid offending people?

So no sooner do I write a piece on how trigger warning culture and how wanting a utopian media is a bad idea than I get a story slid across my digital desk.

The story started in the GameFAQs forum and has turned into a full article on it's own on another site, but well this is now seemingly my area.

So apparently a patch to the Dying Light has removed a small line of dialogue from the game. Doesn't seem too big right ? Well the line of dialogue was about how Troy one of the main characters had acid thrown in her face by her brother when she asked about going to school.

That's the line that's been removed. A line about a very real problem still happening in some parts of the world. An issue very few places will cover. An issue brought to the forefront in recent years when Malala Yousafzai was shot by members of the Taliban while on her school bus.

This is the true danger to gaming that is posed by those claiming context doesn't matter and the mere inclusion of this kind of content shouldn't happen.

You may wonder why I've been so very anti Anita well this kind of thing is the reason why. This is why I've said again and again video games need to be allowed to grow up. This kind of thing is the reason I've been so staunchly against people claiming games shouldn't even try to tackle certain issues.

Someone in reddit summed my feelings on this up perfectly.

 

 

This is the kind of stupid crap and feeling the need to "self censor" that I'm really concerned about. Considering the incident with GTA V and considering Anita laid into Dying Light because of it using the damsel in distress trope (completely ignoring the context that the "damsel" starts the game by saving your characters damn life without you having any real agency).

I can just see the claims now "Dying Light promotes violence against women" totally ignoring the context that it actually shows the horrific consequences of such acts.

In a world where context is unimportant everything is offensive. So here's to context and those who actually give two shits about it. Because the true thing people should find offensive is not actions being shown as clearly negative. It's people claiming said content shouldn't be in games to begin with "because um um patriarchy um um normalisation" or claiming that these issus shouldn't be discussed by items of media in some claim it trivialises what is a major and quite taboo thing.

You know rather than makes said subjects less taboo and allows discussion of these kind of things to take place rather than a single person be seen worthy to dictate right and wrong on these things.

 

If peoeple ever wanted to see the harm out of context claims can and cherry picking can do you can now look at Dying Light a game. That felt the need to self censor to avoid anyone making out of context claims about its content. You know like Anita did about Hitman Absolution and Watch Dogs and has done about many other games.

 

You want to see the harm, you're seeing it now and the kind of twee person who demands nothing should ever have the power to offend them is the kind of person who is holding video games back. Reducing it to a mere childs toy and refusing to let it progress until creator such up to them (See Towerfall adding a killable Anita Sarkeesian character to the game). 

 

 

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